A judge has awarded more than $11.2 million to the estate of Aasiya Zubair Hassan, the Orchard Park woman beheaded by her husband in 2009. But there are serious questions about whether the estate will receive anywhere near that amount.
The estate’s attorneys called it one of the largest awards in the state in a domestic-violence case.
Erie County Surrogate Barbara Howe ordered Muzzammil S. “Mo” Hassan to pay his wife’s estate a total of $11,277,530 plus 9 percent interest from Feb. 12, 2009, when the 37-year-old victim was killed in the couple’s Orchard Park television studio, to the Nov. 1 date of the judgment.
Her decision was based on the evidence she heard during a damages trial in the lawsuit filed by attorneys Terrence M. Connors and Mollie C. McGorry on behalf of the estate April 16, 2009. Connors said attorneys are looking into whether the damages could be collected, noting that the estate has already won a settlement from the TV station and obtained all of the defendant’s stock and financial interests in the station.
“We hope that this award has some deterrent effect” on domestic violence, he said.
“People will know that you not only can be prosecuted, but also be subject to litigation and damages.”
Hassan, 49, was convicted by an Erie County jury of murder in February 2011 after a two-week trial and was sentenced to the maximum prison term of 25 years to life in the fatal attack on his wife in the studio of Bridges Network. After using two hunting knives to stab his wife 42 times, he beheaded her and turned himself in to police.
The estate filed suit for wrongful death and assault. The judge granted summary judgment to the plaintiff against the defendant July 10, 2012, and held a trial May 23 to determine how much money the estate should receive.
In her decision, Howe awarded the estate $5,638,765 in punitive damages and $1.5 million for the victim’s pain and suffering.
She awarded the rest of the money to the couple’s two children, son Danyal, who was 6 at the time of the murder, and daughter Rania, who was 4. Danyal was awarded $463,867 for loss of his mother‘s financial support; Rania was awarded $674,898.
Each child also was awarded $1.5 million for loss of parental guidance. Connors said the children now live with relatives in India.